Late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has been laid to rest at a military museum after an emotional final journey through the streets of Caracas watched by hundreds of thousands.

After more than a week lying in state, Chavez’s body was yesterday driven through the Venezuelan capital in a hearse, allowing his compatriots to bid a final farewell to the man who ruled the South American country for 14 years.

Friends and family joined the government and army officials in surrounding the coffin as it arrived at Chavez’s final resting place — the hilltop former army barracks-turned-museum where he plotted his failed 1992 coup.

Official television coverage, streaming the procession throughout the day, cut the footage just as Chavez’s coffin, bedecked in a Venezuelan flag, was set to be interred.

Late yesterday Venezuelan officials ruled out embalming Chavez and leaving his body on permanent public display in a similar fashion as Lenin.

The museum housing Chavez’s body will open to the public from today and the government expects the mausoleum to become a “place of pilgrimage for the world’s revolutionaries’’.

Earlier, a black hearse loaded with the casket made its entrance through the gates of the barracks, and several senior military commanders carried the coffin down a red carpet.

“Our people can be absolutely sure that we won’t fail them, we will build Bolivarian socialism... following the comandante’s instructions,” the late president’s older brother Adan Chavez spoke just before the coffin closed, as he choked up and could not finish his speech.

Chavez succumbed to cancer on March 5 at age 58, plunging a deeply polarised Venezuela into mourning amid growing uncertainty over its future.

The funeral procession had started after a mass and a solemn ceremony in the courtyard of the military academy, which for nine days and nights saw throngs of Venezuelans come pay their last respects.

After a mass, the casket was loaded into a black hearse for the 12-km procession by foot, motorcycle, car, jeep and on horseback to the barracks.

(This article was published on March 16, 2013)
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